UN set to leave half of Gaza and West Bank hungry, as food programme feels a lack of US money

The UN’s World Food Programme is cutting food aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, putting some 190,000 impoverished people at risk. The lack of US funding, stopped in September, is being acutely felt by aid workers.

Come January, 27,000 people in the West Bank will have their food assistance cut off, and 165,000 people in the West Bank and Gaza will have their food aid cut by 20 percent.

“WFP has been forced, unfortunately, to make drastic cuts to the number of people that we support across Palestine, both in Gaza and the West Bank,” Stephen Kearney, WFP country director in the Palestinian Territories, told Reuters.

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Humanitarian groups working with Palestinians have seen record low funding levels this year, largely as a result of the US’s decision to end its $300 million support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian (UNRWA) in September.

UN’s Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Jamie McGoldrick, this week issued an appeal for $350 million to help the people in Palestine, particularly in Gaza which has experienced “serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation,” as a result of an “enormous rise” in casualties at the March of Return protests, outbreaks of violence and an economy that is in “freefall.” 

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“Our plan for 2019 prioritizes assistance for people assessed as being most in need of protection, food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation,” McGoldrick said on Monday. “It enables us to maximize limited funding. But much more is needed, and we stand ready to do more, if funding and operational space are improved.”

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Gaza: Scores of Palestinians Injured During Protest Against Israeli Naval Blockade

The surge of protests in Gaza began in March with a series of protests along the border, which is known as the “March of Return.”

Over a hundred Palestinians were injured near Gaza's northern border Monday during a protest against Israel's 12-year naval blockade. 93 protestors suffered injuries and 37 people were shot with live ammunition by Israeli occupational forces. the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza confirmed Tuesday.

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Israeli forces also opened fire on medical crews and ambulances that attempted to reach the area to provide medical aid to the injured.

Ma’an News Agency reports the tensions escalated during the march when protesters began to set tires on fire to obstruct Israeli snipers deployed at the northern Gaza border. Israeli forces then started to open fire with rubber-coated steel bullets on the crowd.

The northern border of Gaza has seen various attempts over the course of the last few months to draw attention to, and break the siege of, the Gaza strip, sometimes via ships attempting to sail into Gaza or from the Strip itself. Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2006 after Hamas gained a majority in the Palestinian parliamentary election.

Since March, over 170 people have been killed and thousands injured by Israeli occupation forces during a series of protest in the region, which has sought to highlight the naval blockades destruction of the territories' economies and other acts by the Israeli government that have denied the population basic commodities.

There were other protests Monday including in Khan al-Ahmar where thousands of Palestinians converged to thwart Israel’s demolition of the Bedouin village of the Jahalin tribe in the occupied West Bank. Israel temporally postponed plans to begin demolition due to the holiday of Simchat Torah Tuesday.

Gaza saw another protest Monday by UNRWA employees in front of a hotel where agency officials were conducting a meeting. This prompted the agency, which aids almost three million Palestinian refugees to take most of their foreign staff out of Gaza over “security concerns.” Only six out of 19 foreign officials have remained in Gaza.

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